Former Greensburg doctor indicted in sex-for-drugs scheme
A former Greensburg doctor who is accused in a sex-for-drugs scheme involving a 15-year-old girl was indicted Tuesday by a federal grand jury in U.S. District Court in Pittsburgh.
Robert R. Franzino, 60, is accused of using messages sent via social media to offer the girl drugs and cash for sex. He has been in the Westmoreland County Prison in lieu of $500,000 bail since March following his arrest by a Greensburg police officer and an agent with the state Attorney General's Office.
Franzino was indicted on a charge of attempted coercion and enticement of a minor to engage in illegal sexual activity, U.S. Attorney David J. Hickton said.
Last week, county officials said the prosecution was being transferred to federal court.
According to the indictment, between Sept. 9 and March 13, Franzino used facilities and means of interstate and foreign commerce, specifically an Android cellphone, to try to entice a minor to engage in sexual activity.
Federal law provides for a maximum total sentence of life in prison, a fine of $750,000 or both, if Franzino is convicted, Hickton said. Under the federal sentencing guidelines, the sentence imposed would be based upon the seriousness of the offenses and Franzino's prior criminal history.
Franzino, a former emergency room physician, pleaded guilty in 2002 to insurance fraud and violating state drug laws after he was charged with prescribing painkillers to four women in the hopes of having sex with them when he worked as a physician at Westmoreland Excela Hospital in Greensburg in 1999, according to court records.
He was sentenced to 10 years of probation and prohibited from practicing medicine in Pennsylvania until December 2005. Records show the state board of medicine revoked his license in November 2005.
State records indicate that Franzino never attempted to reactivate his medical license. Since his license revocation, he has worked as a consultant in medical malpractice cases, authorities said.
Franzino's attorney, J. Allen Roth of Latrobe, has said his client is innocent of the recent charges and will fight the indictment.
The case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice, Hickton said.
Paul Peirce is a reporter for the Tribune-Review. He can be reached at 724-850-2860 or firstname.lastname@example.org.